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Guide to User Story Mapping
Guide to User Story Mapping

User Story mapping is a visual exercise carried out by team members, project managers, product teams for outstanding customer experience. It mainly reduces the gap between user's needs and product feature implementation.

Here is a short guide to User Story Mapping.

What is User Story Mapping?

It is a detailed or brief visual representation of user journey workflows used in software and design strategies. Before proceeding further, it is imperative to know the following terms:


A product is built to solve users' problems. Thus, a user is a centre for any user story mapping activity.

User Stories

A user story is written in a natural non-technical language about a software feature from the user's standpoint. They add value by providing a clear idea of the what, the why and the how.

User Story Navigation

Sometimes navigating through multiple user stories can become a tedious task. It's fixed by categorizing the user stories using post-it notes or with the help of online user story mapping tools.


How is it Different from Your Product Backlog?


Every Agile team works on a backlog - a container where everything needed for product building stays, including feature requests from customers, or identified defects. They are captured in an Agile PM/Collaboration tool, and the information gets picked up by the associated team as part of the planning process.

User story mapping provides greater detail about the requirements, especially from an end-user perspective. The mapping outcomes help in creating Backlog.

Also, you will get a clear picture of:

  • Product building purpose.
  • Product consumers and their needs.
  • Product value proposition.
  • Product delivery time.

Benefits of User Story Mapping


Possible reasons to go for it: 

Better Planning

With a user story mapping, you will get an idea of project blockers, dependencies, risks, and a clear user journey picture even before the onset of the development phase.

Excellent empathy

Once Henry Ford said: "If there is anyone secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person's point of view and see things from his angle as well as your own". User story mapping does the same by empathizing with end-users which will help you build an engaging product.

Improved Prioritization

User story mapping helps identify the ideal experience for customers while interacting with your product. It becomes clear which stories to implement first on the customer journey to create MVP.

Better Requirements

With story mapping, you will have a deep understanding of product requirements, its features, and more.

Improved collaboration

As all the teams starting from sales, marketing, development come together for a story mapping activity, the requirements become understandable, and everyone gets to work towards a common vision.

Let us visit some user story mapping related terms.

User Story, Epic

They are parts of user story mapping and have specific definitions.

User Story

Let us know how to create a user story.

Steps to writing user stories

  • Each user story must be releasable, and it must have resilient granularity- which means multiple user stories should be flexible to be merged to an overall product.
  • Write a good user story using INVEST method.

The INVEST method is proposed by Bill Wake, and it discusses

  • Independent - Every user story is independent and must be individually releasable.
  • Negotiable - In this phase, the owner is open to the product feasibility discussion with the internal team.
  • Valuable - Every user story must have its user value. Try to get to know them.
  • Estimable - Each user stories are easy to work on with a tentative delivery timeline.
  • Small - Since the user stories are small, they can be finished in a short period and ready for quick feedback.
  • Testable - They can be easily tested.

The input of a user story is product requirements.

The output of a user story is value matching to the user’s expectations.

Format: As a [user], I want to [perform an action] so that [I can achieve a specific task].

For example,

As a user, I want to book an appointment so that I am not behind my health checkups.

How to do acceptance testing on a user story?

Format: Given [a scenario], When [some condition], Then [one must get a particular output].

For example,

Given I must go for a health checkup, when I get an appointment, then I must go to the doctors.


Let us think of epic as a collection of user stories developed independently for a particular task. For example, let us take an epic “Ticket Booking", epic could consist of

  • As a user, I want to book a ticket as a guest without signing into my account.
  • As a user, I want to book the ticket only after logging in and seeing my previous travel details.
  • As a user, I want to book tickets using social media
  • As a user, I want to book tickets with multiple payment options

Backbone is another term to represent the top layer of a user story mapping. This layer helps you understand the “Why’s” of a user’s journey.

Where to Use?

It is often used in an Agile project environment.

When to Use?

Usually, user story mapping is done at the beginning of any project or when the product takes a new direction.

To implement it, team members and subject matter experts brainstorm about user stories and requirements for a crisp user journey.

Who Could be a Possible Participant?

Participants vary depending on the project but typically include all Internal & External Stakeholders. Typically, this would include:

  • Project team members
  • Marketing & Business users
  • UX designers
  • Alpha / Beta customers and so on

How to Use?

Let's first go through the steps to create a user story mapping.

Propose a user journey

In this step you should have an answer for the following questions:

  • What is the product about?
  • Who will it help?
  • Why is the product needed in the market?

Define the backbone

Backbone is the topmost layer and can be derived from writing good user stories.


Once you have the user stories ready, you can group them into categories to define higher-level items such as Features, Epics etc.


In collaboration with the internal and external stakeholders, identify the user stories that are the most important and ones that can help create an MVP.


Typically, for an ongoing sprint high-priority, user stories are picked up by the team, and the remaining ones stay in the Backlog for the next Sprint Planning Meeting.

What are the Methods or Tools for Creating a User Story Mapping?

It is usually conducted in two ways:

Collocated way

Brainstorming sessions are conducted to create user story mapping when team members and stakeholders are in the same location.

Members would use post-it notes and a whiteboard to categorize and visualize their idea and user journey map.

After that, the user stories would be grouped into higher-level items such as features or epics.

It will help the team to be aware of stories to be included in the current sprint and what to carry on to the next one.

Distributed way


When the teams and stakeholders are spread across the globe, they will use an online mode of communication. Video conferencing and collaboration tools are mandatory for user story mapping brainstorming. Many organizations go for tools. Some of them are:

Easy Agile User Story Maps

It is by Easy Agile that can be integrated with the Jira workspace. It will help you to carry out user story mapping activities effectively. Some features of this tool:

  • You can link backlog with user story maps by drag and drop features. It also helps with the continuous updating of the backlogs.
  • Easy drag and drop user stories on agile storyboards.
  • Swift tracking of sprint activities.


It is used for carrying out user story mapping activities from anywhere in the remote location:

  • It helps with accurately capturing user's requirements.
  • It provides an insightful mapping board with user persona.
  • It helps with easy backlog creation.
  • It assists with the easy sharing of user story mapping visualizations among the team.
  • It helps with easy task prioritization with good stakeholder connectivity.
  • It allows easy integration with other tools.


This tool is known for its user story mapping templates. They are easy to use. Some features are:

  • It provides excellent collaboration between teams.
  • It is an easy-to-use tool.


User story mapping is a great way of building a user-focused product. A user-centric product is a blessing for everyone, including businesses and product users.

User story mapping is one of the best ways to bring teams together with interactive brainstorming sessions. It offers a visual exercise that helps all members understand what needs to be built to deliver superior UX.

Do you want help with building atomic-level user story mapping? Do you want advice on user story mapping tools for your project? Our experienced team will be able to help you with your queries, please feel free to reach out to us at [email protected]